Leah Grantham

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Eugenics, Settler Colonialism, and Public Space: The Sexual Sterilization Act of Alberta and Indigenous People

Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

I decided to pursue a graduate degree to further my research into ideas connecting disability, indigeneity, sexuality, and gender. I explore these issues through lenses of history, geography, and political science, to better understand how they discreetly shape concepts like citizenship and nationhood.

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

I decided to study at UBC because it offered the most comprehensive and intersectional group of scholars and resources I could use for my research goals.

What is it specifically, that your program offers, that attracted you?

The program's emphasis on combining gender, race, and other fields of inquiry and material experience, rather than siloing these issues into their own respective fields, allows for a more comprehensive form of research to emerge.

What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?

How good the food and coffee on campus is!

What aspect of your graduate program do you enjoy the most or are looking forward to with the greatest curiosity?

The variety of different courses offered and the diversity of disciplines that come together under the banner of GRSJ.

What do you see as your biggest challenge(s) in your future career?

Overcoming stereotypes about gender studies being limited, frivolous, or irrelevant to larger social issues and research.

How do you feel your program is preparing you for those challenges?

By showing me just how challenging, thorough, and relevant research into gender, race, and other topics is for understanding larger issues.

What aspects of your life or career before now have best prepared you for your UBC graduate program?

The chance to collaborate with other scholars at my undergraduate school, UVic.

What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?

Go for walks along the seawall, pet dogs, and lift weights at the gym.

What advice do you have for new graduate students?

Make friends off campus whenever possible, or do things off campus with your cohort and classmates, it makes a difference!


Learn more about Leah's research

A historiography and geographically based examination into how political and social anxieties about Indigenous people sharing public space with settlers, farmers' desire for access to land, and the idealized image of the Canadian citizen, influenced the Alberta Eugenics movement in the 19th century. Specifically, my research explores how the Sexual Sterilization Act of Alberta impacted indigenous people, and others.